Website heatmaps have always been a valuable tool to accurately track user data. Rather than spend hours combing through digital data, click rates, and conversions, heatmaps offer a visual of customer behavior in an easy to digest map.
Heatmaps can be used on websites or in email to track where a user or customer is drawn to first and where they go next, whether that’s clicking on a CTA button, adding something to the cart, or scrolling down the page to read more. Website heatmaps can help businesses better understand how a page is performing and what can be done to improve performance and conversion.
What Are Website Heatmaps?
Website heatmaps use color to indicate which areas are getting a lot of engagement (shown in orange to red) and which areas are getting little engagement (shown in green or blue). The colors of the heatmap literally go from cold to hot depending on engagement, where users are clicking, what they are drawn to, if they are engaging with the CTA, whether they make it below the fold or not, and many other vital pieces of data.
Heatmap data can be measured in 5 primary ways:
A visual representation of use data presented in a visual map differentiated by colors indicating activity via hot and cold indicators.
Indicates which parts of the website are clicked the most via a visual heatmap. This can help you determine which elements are getting the most engagement including images, buttons, links, CTA, navigation, email sign up, etc.
A visual representation of a user’s scrolling behavior to track how far a user scrolls, whether or not they scroll to the bottom of the page, where users abandoned the page, and more. This will help you determine where to place CTAs and important information based on user behavior.
- Mouse Tracking Heatmap
This tracks where users hover their cursor, where they pause or move quickly, and how they interact with content. This is also an opportunity to gain data on what content users find engaging as they tend to hover over those areas for longer.
- Eye Tracking Heatmap
Eye tracking determines where a user’s eye is drawn to first, and then tracks where they look next. This is useful to determine if the intended content is being seen or looked at by the user and how they engage with it. The data can be used to plan the flow of a website and place eye-catching content where a user is more likely to be looking. This is typically measured in a controlled setting for market research.
Based on the content and the desired data, the different ways to track user data will apply to different scenarios.
Why Are Website HeatMaps Important?
Traditional analytics on user data is cumbersome and can be difficult to accurately distill down to what is happening on the website and why. Website heatmaps are one of the most powerful diagnostic tools to measure user data that we have today. You can get real results in real-time and make adjustments to capture and play to the user’s behavior without having to make “educated guesses” based on analytical data.
The usability and accuracy of heatmaps is helping marketers better understand the behavior and flow a user goes through as they engage with content. Whether that be on a webpage or email, this information is changing the way content is created, organized, and measured.
- Measure Performance
Heatmaps are a powerful tool whether you’re measuring on a website or an email. Between the five different types of heatmaps, you have a thorough read on how the website or email is performing, how engaged users are, what they’re clicking on and looking at, how long they stay on the page and how far they scroll, and how well your content is converting.
- Simplify Data
A bunch of numerical data can be hard to decipher with the same accuracy of a visual heatmap. Based on the color scheme, you know exactly, at a glance, how a piece of content is performing. This can tell you what’s performing well, what can use improvement, and what isn’t converting or engaging at all. This is not something an Excel sheet, even a graphically organized one, can tell you in the same amount of time. Simplified data leaves less room for human error, debate, and questions.
- Intuitive Design
UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) are greatly improved with heatmaps. When you can see exactly what pieces of content the user is engaging with, you can also easily design or redesign content that serves that behavior. When a website is intuitive, a user feels like they’re just flowing along without a catch or hang-up, or having to go out of their way to look for something. Content is delivered in an intuitive way, on a well-designed UI increases conversions, builds brand trust and creates a customer out of a prospect. Users are also more likely to recommend the brand to others just because of their positive and easy experience navigating the site.
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Conversions are the end goal of every website. Whether that’s buying a product, watching a video, signing up for emails, filling out a contact form, downloading a free asset, etc, every website’s bottom line is dependant upon conversions. Based on the data provided by heatmaps, CRO has never been easier to test and implement. You can activate the heatmap, analyze results, create and test variations, and send the version with the most conversions out to the world. This will also give you insights on why users didn’t convert, where they dropped off, what the bounce rate is, and even segment your audience.
By making changes for a better UX and UI based on insights from direct user behavior, data-based decisions for A/B testing, updating, or redesigning your website, heatmaps are the future of marketing. With use data so obvious and available, it’s hard to argue about changes needed for a website with you have heatmaps.
How to Create a Website HeatMap
There are many ways to implement this powerful tool. Starting with a top-rated and well-respected heatmap software is the first step. Working with a professional marketing firm is the best place to start as there are so many heatmap options on the market.
There are only two steps to creating a website heatmap:
- Heatmap generation software to collect data
- A clear idea of which page(s) need to be analyzed
Once the software is installed, the heatmaps begin working immediately. You’ll want to let the software run for a couple of weeks before making any decisions, but you’ll be able to discern the core of the data fairly quickly.
It all begins with a goal and solving a problem. There are many challenges that users encounter when navigating a website for the first time. Many of those challenges can be easily identified and rectified with heatmaps.
Common challenges of users:
- Failing to reach or find important content
- Using and finding basic navigation, main links, opt-ins, buttons, CTAs
- Clutter and distractions from non-clickable elements
- Issues across devices
- Poor conversion on mobile
Once the goals are identified by addressing the challenges, different types of heatmaps can be employed in order to address the challenges directly. In addition to the valuable data, you’ll get at a glance, you can also see the data compiled in a more traditional format to analyze further in an Excel sheet. The two combined data deliveries will help you make the necessary changes.
Heatmaps allow you to analyze data from any page on your website, but it is advised to start with the pages that are focused on conversions, landing pages being promoted, and pages with the most traffic.
Best pages to collect heatmap data on:
- Landing pages
- Product page
- Checkout page
- Best-performing pages (most traffic, comments, etc)
- Under-performing pages
- New pages
Once you’ve implemented a heatmap on a specific page, save that data when there is a redesign so you can refer back to the original performance data and compare it to the new page.
Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Website HeatMap
First and foremost, it’s wise to be aware of the fact that there are multiple low-budget tools available on the market with the increase in heatmap popularity and demand. If you’re going to commit to the process of gaining this valuable data, it’s best to go with a high-quality product.
- Sample Size
Many reputable websites with millions of users per day rely on heatmaps for optimal performance. While your website may not have millions of users, it is still vital to determine a correct and realistic sample size. Calculating your sample size requires the fetching of some basic data and a little light math.
- Traffic Type
Users either come to your website for the first time, or they are repeat users. These different traffic types have different needs, goals, and challenges in engaging with your website and must be treated as such. When choosing your traffic type, it’s important to segment your visitors, between new and returning, according to their needs.
- Sample Period
Runtime is super important when setting up your heatmap software. The valuable data that is collected will be done so over a specific period of time. If this timeframe is set too short, you won’t have enough reliable and relevant data to make any changes from. And if you do make changes from this short set of data, it could put your traffic and conversions even further back. If you set the period for too long of a time, it may start collecting irrelevant data that muddles the goal. The average sample period is two weeks.
- Block Internal IP Addresses
When working with heatmap software and beginning to collect data, you and your team may be tempted to look at the website with new eyes and see if you can replicate the data being collected. This will create polluted data that is being collected by the heatmap software, rendering incorrect results. Block the IP addresses of your team from the heatmap software so that it is not collecting based on your own internal testing or curiosity.
- Crosscheck Data
Heatmaps are not an end-all-be-all solution to collecting data. If the results from heatmaps can’t be crosschecked with any other sources, it is difficult to know if an error was made or if data was polluted. While heatmaps are indeed the most comprehensive way to visually observe user behavior in real-time, there also has to be alternate tools running at the same time.
Challenges and mistakes are inevitable when using new software. These are some of the most common mistakes made by marketers when first implementing heatmap software. It is an exciting time where so many new tools and solutions are available on the market to improve traffic and conversions, but they all must be used with attention to detail and great care.
The Bottom Line: HeatMaps in 2020
Heatmaps are going to be used at a greater rate in 2020. With the expansion of technology and new devices, customer behavior also changes. This evolution burning on both ends of the candle is rapidly changing the way users get information and how companies deliver it.
Website heatmaps are surely changing the face of marketing, but using the software without knowledge of the inner workings can create a bigger headache for a company. Working closely with a professional marketing firm will offer the experience and expertise needed to navigate these new waters with ease.
The realtime user behavior is invaluable and can be implemented almost immediately with the right team and shared vision. If you need help or consultation on website heatmap software, get in touch with us at Pico Digital to gain specific insights and improve your bottom line. Our team of professional marketers can help you make data-driven changes, optimize for conversions and search engines, and create content that sells. Whether you’re brand new to the space or a seasoned veteran, we will help you get to meet and exceed your business goals.